STATE — PSE&G is alerting its customers not to be defrauded by a scam in which individuals misrepresenting themselves as PSE&G employees threaten to turn off electric and gas service if payment is not made to them that day.
The scam involves payments using Green Dot MoneyPaks and seems to be targeting Hispanic neighborhoods in PSE&G’s service territory. As noted on the MoneyPak packaging and on the company’s web site (www.moneypak.com), to protect themselves from fraud, consumers should treat the MoneyPak like cash and only use the MoneyPak number with businesses on their approved partner list.
Here is how the scam works: A Spanish-speaking individual pretending to be a PSE&G employee calls customers saying they “work for PSE&G in the disconnect collection department.” They tell customers their account is in arrears and their utility service will be discontinued unless they make a payment using a prepaid debit card.
Customers are told to purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak at any convenience store, use cash to put money onto the card, and then provide the number on the card to the person who called them. Customers are advised that if they do not immediately call back and provide the MoneyPak information, their service will be turned off that day.
Typically, after the customer provides that MoneyPak number, the scammer transfers the funds to a prepaid card, and cashes it in at an ATM.
What to do if you get a call: When PSE&G makes an outbound phone call to customers, the caller ID will identify the call as coming from PSE&G and customer-specific information is shared with the customer. If customers do not receive the correct pieces of information, they likely are not speaking with a PSE&G representative. If customers feel uncomfortable and they know they have an outstanding balance that needs to be resolved, they should hang up and call PSE&G directly at 1-800-436-7734 or visit a local PSE&G Customer Service Center. Service Centers are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with locations listed on customer bills and online at: http://www.pseg.com/centers
Any customer who has doubts about the legitimacy of any call from PSE&G, especially one in which payment is requested, should call the utility directly.
PSE&G is working with law enforcement to investigate the matter and is also reaching out to its contacts at local community service agencies asking them to spread the word to their clients.
The Better Business Bureau also is warning customers to be on guard for a rising tide of scams involving MoneyPaks, which can be used to fund PayPal accounts and to pay phone, cable or other utility bills, or credit card bills.
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